When I recently put out a vote on what my next video topic should be there was a resounding request to discuss friendships.
Call me cynical, but I think we’ve all struggled in this area of relationships perhaps more so than we would like to admit. Yes, those romantic experiences are always up there in our tireless journey to find ‘the one’, but friendships are can be more fickle and messy than society allows us to imagine.
From Taylor Swift and her ‘squad goals’ to the continuous portrayal of girlfriends and ‘bromances’ in films and TV, we’re led to believe that a huge group of friends is the desirable must-have.
But in real life, it just doesn’t work like that.
My experience of friendships is something that still turns my stomach in knots when I recall the grey days of secondary school.
Like most teens, I struggled with low self-esteem and had next to nothing in confidence, but it was made all the more difficult by the girls who I thought were my friends, but did nothing in providing me with kindness or support.
The total opposite was what I received from these young girls, who saw no wrongdoing in squashing food between my school books and pushing me in bushes as a joke.
Essentially, it was bullying, but under the guise that I was the ‘fun one’ who could take a laugh. Or in reality, the lonely one who they saw as a target.
Excluded from social gatherings at the weekends and the hot topic of malicious gossip, I was the content that they just couldn’t get enough of picking apart. I struggled to understand what was wrong with me and what I had done wrong. And in a sick and twisted way, I really believed they were my friends and wanted to do anything to just fit in.
Growing up means realising a lot of your friends, aren’t really your friends.
After coping with this disgraceful form of friendship throughout senior school and sixth form, it came to the point when I realised that this wasn’t healthy. I was tired and exhausted from battling to gain their approval.
These so-called friendships weren’t making me feel good, and the truth was, they were beginning to mess with my head. Making me believe that I wasn’t good enough and as if I was never going to get anywhere in life. I was mentally drained.
I made the decision to step out of the friendship circle completely once I had left to go to college and begin a diploma. None of them were coming to the same college, and to me, it was the clean break I needed in order to gather myself back-up and start again somewhere new without anyone standing over me.
I’m not going to lie that it was hard to go to a completely new place where no-one knew me, but I also knew the that the flipside to that was following in the footsteps of my friends and continuing down the dark path of changing myself to fit in with others.
For a while after this, I avoided female friendships as I was petrified that they would inflict the same mental torture on me that I had only just overcome. I know that sounds immature, but for I just had to focus on getting myself back, without feeling influenced by others.
After a time, I came to realise there wasn’t something wrong with me that had caused this form of friendship to go so awry. It was their insecurities which fuelled the blind bullying.
This entire experience has since been the root that has stemmed into my passion for only finding friends that are truly supportive and encouraging. I’m lucky enough now to have fierce friendships that are a warm bundle of support and love. Something of which I’m forever grateful for.
But these friends are an eclectic mix of individuals who I’ve collected along this journey of life. They don’t all come from the same background, or have the same interests. They are a beautiful group of individuals who enlighten me and inspire me in so many different ways.
It isn’t that girl group from the 90’s that I can sing spice girls with, and that’s fine with me.
Do I wish I had that group of girls who’ve known me all of my existence? Sometimes.
When I went to a friends hen party last year, she had friends who have known her since junior school. They laughed and reminisced about their early years, and it struck me how in my life, I have no friend who have known me for that amount of time, and that at my hen party, whenever that day comes; I won’t be talking about my early school days or who my first crush was. Instead, it will most likely be an assortment of friends who have met me from all walks of life, who enrich me with tales of how we met and how the journey has been.
You’ll know the people that feed your soul, because you’ll feel good after spending time with them.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is. Don’t get hung up on feeling like you’re missing out on historical friendships. Each of us have our own experience with friends. Some like having a lot, some like having a special few. But there’s no right or wrong way.
As long as the friends you have treat you with love, kindness and respect, they’re keepers no matter where you found them.